Saturday, 12 April 2014

Real food lessons for adults and children

We've had an interesting food journey over the last few years.  As a family, we began connecting with real food due to our efforts to live more sustainably.  In my attempts to reduce  the fuels wasted in transporting food to the supermarkets and to buy less processed (again a waste of fuel) and packaged food we found ourselves buying a lot of local and seasonal produce.  We also began to take our veggie gardening efforts seriously.

Gradually, very gradually, without me even really noticing, we've changed the way we think about food and cooking.  I've had to find new recipes that made use of the ingredients that I sourced.  I have begun to use ingredients that I never used to cook with.  Along the way, I have become more creative with food by default.  I used to read a recipe and think, "Oooh!  Dry, white wine!  I don't have any!"  And off I would race to the supermarket to get the vital ingredient.
It was as I was cooking soup for guests this morning that I became aware of the mind shift we have all undergone.  Not only do I now deliberately cook with local, seasonal ingredients, but the supermarkets tend not to jump to mind.  The soup I am making is a potato and leek soup.  I didn't reach for a recipe book.  How many leeks should I use?  Well as many as I purchased at our local, organic stall yesterday of course!  In fact, the purchase was the inspiration for the soup.  I didn't go there with a meal in mind.  I did it backwards.  I went to see what was on offer and decided on my menu from there.  And how many potatoes should I use? As many of our home grown potatoes as I feel would enhance the amount of leeks in the pot.

I have recently noticed that the kids have shifted their perception of their food origins too.  If they are eating apples from our tree and those apples run out, they see it as a natural occurrence.  When we were supermarketers, they would automatically cry, "Mum!  We need more apples!"  This thought process is very obvious with our new source of milk.   Since I began milking the goat the children have reduced their intake dramatically.  I haven't insisted on a reduction or sat them down to explain the new situation.  They have just accepted that the milk is finite.  I hear them telling each other to not have too much because it's the goats milk!  They can easily accept that, if they finish it, they need to wait until I milk the next day.
Do you see the difference?  At first we went out of our way to change the way we shopped and while it was wonderful, it was a conscious and deliberate choice.  Now it is becoming the norm for us.  The kids don't rifle through the cupboard looking for a particular product but, rather, looking to see what is on offer.  It feels natural and it feels like we are connected to our area, our gardens and our seasons. 
It's not always possible to eat completely according to our values but every now and again it just works perfectly.  Tonight I will serve sourdough bread baked by a friend.  I will cut it into small pieces and make a platter along with her zucchini pickles and pesto.  I bought all of these at our swap market.  I will also add some local olives purchases from another friend at last week's farmers market and some cherry tomatoes will complete the platter.  Then the soup.  We'll follow this up with a simple dinner of barbecued local sausages from our butcher along with crumbed eggplant from the swap market.  Dessert will be quinces (swap market) baked in honey (my bees) and butter.  Of course, we will have some local wine to quench our thirst.  I'm really looking forward to dinner.  I'm probably not offering enough veggies with dinner to make it a proper meal but it's simple, it's no fuss and it's all good wholesome food.  If I've thought it through properly, only the butter, seasoning and some stock were from commercial sources!  Oh, and of course I will be serving the quinces with lashings of cream!  That was from the supermarket too.
I love our new attitude that crept up while we weren't looking!  This IS the food connection!!  We respect our food and where it comes from.  As a result we appreciate it so much more.
Have you been through similar changes in your awareness of food?  Where at you at in your food journey? Maybe you are just starting out with veggie gardening or possibly you are at the point where you produce most of your own food.  I would love to hear what others are doing!


Cheryl said...

That sounds awesome Linda!
I need so much practice at made up recipes, I'm the type of cook you described in the first half of this post, running to the shop for the wine! But it is ridiculous isn't it!

GC said...

That is inspiring. I shop at the Vic market once a week, and feel connected to that food, but that's nothing compared to this. I have had a glimpse of what you are talking about when we have broad beans from the garden, and we all treat them as precious morsels (which they are). I am planning to grow more vegetables, and more consistently.

Suzie Simplelife said...

Hi are great at making your own recipes....I am not quite there yet...I do get quite excited when I use some of my homegrown veg...wish I could ditch the supermarket...I will keep working on it..... well done you I'm inspired!!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I really relate to this post.We have lived on our little (2 acre) smallholding for 33 years now and still delight in the simple meals we can prepare with what we have growing, preserved or bartered. Our only regret is that we couldn't offer this to our children when they were very young. However, we have been able to offer it to our grandchildren.

Kim said...

This was the big thing we noticed with our kids- if you use it up ...mum isn't going to the supermarket to buy more - the goat will be milked the next day. As the children became teenagers when their bodies demanded more milk though, we found we had to get a goat that produced more milk. We have also been through much the same journey with the other things you mentioned too, though I don't think I realised just how much impact this way of life was having until I read your own blog post about this.

Linda said...

Hi Cheryl, It's not as hard as you think. I even google substitute ingredients sometimes. I think you probably know more about cooking than you realise.

GC, Isn't gardening the best! So glad you're going to keep on growing!!

Hi Suzie, homegrown veggies are my ultimate goal but I don't always have them. I would love to ditch the supermarkets too but it's hard to do away with them all together. At least I'm using them less.

Hi Gill, I know. I'm lucky to be able to raise my children like this. Your grandchildren will benefit just as much though. I bet they love coming to your place!

Gee Kim, I hadn't thought about different life stages. You're right. There will be times that I might need a second goat or powdered milk as a back up. Even times when people visit.

Farmer Liz said...

Great post linda! I cook the same way now. You described it well.

Jodie said...

Loved this post because its something I really noticed of late. When I got chickens I made a conscious decision not to buy eggs any more (too hard to figure out whats real free range vs fake free range etc). If they aren't laying we don't eat eggs. After lots of fruit crumble (easy non imaginative no egg dessert) I really relish the opportunity to start baking cakes again once the days start getting longer.

Linda said...

It's good isn't it Liz!

Jodie, I admire the way you live by your principles! We also use more eggs when we have lots and ration them if we not getting many. However I'd struggle to get through the months where they don't lay at all! I do buy free range in winter but you make a good point. We have a local free range farm but I should drop in a check the conditions.